Context is a vague notion with numerous building blocks making language test scores inferences quite convoluted. This study has made use of a model of item responding that has striven to theorize the contextual infrastructure of differential item functioning (DIF) research and help specify the sources of DIF. Two steps were taken in this research: first, to identify DIF by gender grouping via logistic regression modeling, an inventory of mostly cited DIF sources was prepared, based on which a list of demographic items was appended to the TOEFL reading paper only to be administered to the intermediate Iranian undergraduates; second, using multiple-variable matching regression (Wu & Ercikan, 2006), a built-in sequence was followed to let every potential DIF source be considered as a covariate, over and above the conditioning variable, and specify whether a particular ecological variable could reduce DIF value/status. Then, all significant variables were analyzed together to show the final DIF predictors. The same procedures, i.e., individual/collective analyses, were employed after the purification of the test. The results indicated three ecological predictors affecting DIF before and after purification: income, administration convenience, and SES. The ultimate predictors helped create an EFL configuration of the ecological model of item responding. The implications for validity arguments are also discussed.
There have been some observed studies and developed applications (apps), with a concentration on Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL), and no consideration of communicative needs of the learners; besides, these studies focused on either the theoretical aspects or the utilization of the available apps in the market (Burston & Athanasiou, 2020). Hence, Vocabulary Guru (VG), a custom-made mobile application, was developed based on a critical framework and an agile approach to fill out the gap. To tackle the issue, after carrying out a qualitative needs analysis via interviews, the first version of the app was developed and released to the target intermediate EFL university students. The next iterations were developed interactively and creatively, in congruence with the feedback received from the target learners. This cycle of incrementing and re-coding of the app continued until the attractor basins superseded. In the current paper, to shed light on how dynamically the interaction between learners and developers can yield in applications, which are more user-friendly and appropriate for a unique pedagogical setting, the life cycle of VG has been discussed. The agile app development processes of the current study may be useful for vocabulary specialists, teachers, educators, app developers, and pedagogical foundations involved in or considering the design and development of mobile apps by critically analyzing the unique needs of the target population in an interactive dynamic, agile life cycle. The developed app (i.e., VG) may also be utilized by EFL learners who would like to learn academic vocabulary in an educational context.
Though learner-centered paradigm of education has long been introduced to pedagogy in general and language teaching in particular, it seems that scant heed has been given to its implementation as well as the restrictions and challenges on its way. In an attempt to shed more light on the status of learner-centered instruction in Iranian language schools, particularly as regards the impediments hindering its proper application, the current researchers selected a cohort of 240 teachers and 450 students for the questionnaire phase through convenience sampling, as well as 29 male and female language school learners and 30 EFL teachers for interview. Due to its mostly qualitative nature, the study made use of data gathered via questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. As the findings revealed, students referred to resource constraints and teachers’ tendency toward applying traditional practices as the two overriding barriers restricting proper LCE implementation. The other two prominent factors singled out by the findings obtained out of students’ attitudes were lack of clear definition of LCE and lack of familiarity resulting from improper training. As regards teachers’ perspectives of impediments, however, poor motivation on the part of teachers and parents’ lack of receptivity for LCE were identified as the most prominent barriers. Finally, in line with the interview findings, all three categories of teacher-induced, learner-induced, and context-relevant factors were reported to be responsible for limiting LCE implementation with variable degrees of influence. The study findings are thought to have practical implications for English language pedagogy in the Iranian context.
Although grades are the most ubiquitous currency of educational measurement around the globe, their meaning, particularly in understudied settings as in Iran, is still shrouded in mystery. The purpose of this study was to investigate EFL teachers’ class grades by focusing on the less verbalized aspects of grading to see what a grade means. Five Iranian English language teachers working part-time in a private EFL institute were interviewed using the repertory grid interviewing technique, Kelly’s (1955) unique data collection instrument used extensively in personal construct theory (PCT). The results of the content analysis revealed that of the 92 elicited constructs, over 70% were categorized as non-academic, pointing to a heavy reliance on such criteria for grading, and consequently leading to the invalidity of assigned grades. Further, the results of principal component analysis (PCA) of each teacher’s elicited constructs endorsed hodgepodge grading by demonstrating single main components that accounted for the most variation in teacher grading and that comprised both academic and non-academic factors. However, this phenomenon was interpreted slightly differently when seen from the PCT perspective. Implications of this study for teacher professional development and teacher education programs are discussed.
This study investigated the effect of Narrow Reading (NR) on learning mid-frequency words. Vocabulary Size Test (VST) designed by Nation and Beglar (2007) was administered as the first pre-test to 196 students, from among whom 91 students whose vocabulary size ranged between 2100- 3500-word families, , became the target of this study and were randomly classified into four groups. Then another pretest administered was a modified version of Wesche and Paribakht’s Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) which assessed how well they knew twenty vocabularies derived from the expository and narrative texts. After thirty sessions for direct instruction, VKS was repeated immediately as a posttest to assess vocabulary learning while a month later, VKS was taken as a delayed posttest to assess vocabulary retention. To address research questions, a mixed design factorial ANOVA was conducted. The findings revealed that while the theme was fixed, reading expository texts rather than narrative ones led to the growth in vocabulary knowledge. In addition, the group that read narratives forgot most of the mid-frequency words in the retention phase. As opposed to multi-author texts, reading texts written by one author resulted in a better vocabulary achievement in both learning and retention phases. It was also revealed that there was no interaction between genre and author. In other words, the author was as influential in learning mid-frequency words among expository texts as it was in narrative ones. Finally, it was concluded that NR has a positive effect on learning mid-frequency words.
Among the latest efficient approaches in language teaching, Task-based Language Teaching has turned up to be the main approach in a way that it is currently recognized as the leading teaching approach in language instruction (Ji & Pham, 2017). Using the proper tasks based on the proficiency level of the learners can facilitate the process of language learning. The present study aimed at investigating the effect of open and closed tasks on improving Iranian EFL learners’ oral performance at intermediate and advanced levels. This study is a quasi-experimental research with pretest and posttest design. The participants of the study included 55 female EFL learners at Jahadeh Daneshgahi language institute in Tabriz city, who were selected through cluster random sampling method. The data were collected through 10 open tasks and 10 closed tasks along with an oral pretest and an oral posttest checklist that examined grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, breakdown-response, interaction, and speech flow of learners’ oral performance. The tasks were selected from the Four Corner series (Richards & Bohlke, 2012). The data were analyzed by a two-way MANCOVA test and ANCOVA. The obtained results indicated that open and closed tasks can improve EFL learners’ oral performance and there is no significant difference between open and closed tasks in developing learners’ oral performance in both levels. Besides, at the advanced level, the amount of oral performance development is greater than the intermediate level. The outcomes of this study can be useful for EFL teachers and learners regarding using the optimal kind of tasks in improving oral performance.